T Nation

Revisiting the Alleged Leak


#1

Things are coming to a head in this issue now as well.

Possible Cover-Up a Focus in Plame Case
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051021/pl_nm/bush_leak_dc

Some clips for the lazy....

After initially promising to fire anyone found to have leaked information in the case, Bush in July offered a more qualified pledge: "If someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration."

Perhaps the next promise will be "If someone is found guilty of comitting a crime they will no longer work in my administration."? That would be a little more honest anyway.

Legal sources said Rove may be in legal jeopardy for initially not telling the grand jury he talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Plame. Rove only recalled the conversation after the discovery of an e-mail message he sent to Stephen Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser.

Maybe he was talking to so many people trying to get the word out that he couldn't remember who all he talked to? Maybe he was sending spam to recipient lists about the issue and didn't know who all was included?

Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, challenged the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Just in case you live under a rock and have forgotten what this is all about. Wouldn't you like to be a cherry-picker too?


#2

Fitzgerald is currently trying to prove that the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) had anything to do with the Niger forgeries.

The NY Times and LA Times articles that leak Libby's name are being done by Rove's lawyer.

The longer Fitzgerald waits the more people will turn state witness for this grand jury.

The Republican party can only hope that Fitzgerald closes this case without indictment but that is completely unlikely.

The Justice Department just posted a Internet site for this grand jury.

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/index.html

That is were the indictments will be posted.

Plolicy with trump scandal much like the Iran Contra grand jury.


#3

Marmadogg,

Do you have any references for any of those items? They sound like pretty immense issues -- and I've not heard hide nor hair of them before now.


#4

Can't find any fault in your own gov't so you resort to telling old tales about this one.
If in fact any indictments are handed down, now you have a scandal. Until then, something like that now infamous Downing St memo, not much going on here vroom.
What is it about Bush/our gov't that you hate so? Why drag up shit just to beat down the Pres?
If you want to play word games and worry about semantics (if they had anything to do/if they are charged/if they are found guilty...)there exists plenty to go around.
Last I heard, you don't lose your job just because you did something unpopular with the left and the media.
Prove to me she is/was in any danger? Prove to me it trickles down to someone she may have had contact with 5,7,120yrs ago and I'll worry about it.
This has less significance to me than the bird flu. This is just politics and unfortunately, it's played on both side of the street this way.
But you go right ahead and try and make a big deal about it. I'll take your path and say IF anyone is charged, THEN it becomes a story.


#5

It is important because it is the principle that this administration went out of its way to attempt to punish someone (Joseph Plame) who spoke out against the administration. They are attempting to silence opposition to the war. This is not the first time this has happened with them.

And the Downing Street Memo was not fraudulent, it was actually very important. However there are too many assholes in this country still watching fucking reality TV to give a fuck that the government lied to us once again.

Vroom's government tends not to follow doctrines bent on world domination, engage in unjust wars, and have scandal after scandal erupting about the war. Besides, if he talked Canadian politics, who the hell would know what he was talking about. He could say that their prime minister is a three headed cow that lies in vats of syrup and dictates laws based on how his cigarette tastes, and I wouldn't know if he was lying or not.


#6

I guess Brewster-Jennings had no significance.

Tenet asked for this investigation and several judges have seen the evidence presented by the CIA and have allowed the grand jury to proceed as well as they have allowed Fitzgerald to send a journalist to jail.

The rule of law is the rule of law and at the end of the day the CIA has evidence that is contrary to the GOP's assertions.

If Fitz was like Starr we would know everything about this case but Fitz has done this the correct way and no one knows anything.

I am just waiting for Cheney and Libby to return the favor and stab Rove in the back.

It is going to be a blood bath.


#7

First--It is your (and others) ASSUMPTION what the "administration" did or did not do. As far as I know it's still quite a bit of speculation.
Who else has been punished for speaking against the war? Again-broad accusations, nothing factual.
I never claimed fraudulent or not. But it turned out to be really nothing. Who was speaking? Was anything but general references made? If in fact it contained factual information showing the adminstration lied or manipulated intelligence more would have come from it.
It has little or nothing to do with the general population. It's funny how you throw up the approval ratings being meaningful, yet when nothing is done you claim everyone is ignorant and watching TV
You don't get to sit on the fence. vroom/s been there so long he's got squatters rights.


#8

Sasquatch, if Jesus, Buddha, Mohhamed, or Pee Wee Herman, who over you believe in, came and told you himself that Bush and company did something wrong you still wouldn't believe it. You are a true believer... in the Bush Whitehouse.


#9

sasquatch,

Only Fitzgerald and his tight lipped associates know but the actions of more than one federal judge and Rove's lawyer pre-emtively stabbing Libby in the back tell a different tale.

When the indictment rain down will you bad mouth Fitzgerald?


#10

Bingo!

rj, bb, zeb, etc. are in the same boat as sasquatch.


#11

We'll see. From what I've seen, the law everyone is talking about is very, very difficult to violate (it was intentionally written in a very narrow manner to get around 1st Amendment concerns) -- but note that the ever-present "obstruction of justice" charge -- you know, what Martha Stewart was actually convicted of -- could be levied here even if there was no violation of the law underlying the investigation.

Here's an interesting post on the screwiness of the facts we think we know:

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2005/10/tim_russert_ree.html

And here's a rather amusing article on how everything we "know" about the case is a result of leaks:

http://www.nysun.com/article/21795?access=225346


#12

No-as stated the indictments will indicate that there in fact has been illegal activities proved/shown.
Then-let the chips fall where they may. It's just specualtion now--so keep speculating.


#13

Here, add this--BS

I have disagreed with the administration on several issues. This just isn't one of them.
When you have nothing to attack, it's simple for you guys, you just attack the poster.
And hey, as far as I'm concerned, that ain't such bad company to be keeping.
But neither are most of you guys, we just tend to believe different things.
I am not a Bush or Republican zealot.
But I am not prone to attack the President because New Orleans was flooded either.


#14

All I know is that Cheney is one shady mofo as well as other top administration officials. Only time will tell what becomes of this. This situation is a disgrace and one mere example of the corruption in American government today. These views aren't that of a Republican or
Democrat, but of an American and Patriot.


#15

Rove better hope he doesn't get the Vince Foster treatment.


#16

Oh yes, and apparently there's speculation that the prosecutor might attempt an indictment under the Espionage Act, but that's only slightly more likely than under that other law about revealing identities.

Excerpt from an article by Byron York:

That leaves the Espionage Act, originally passed during World War I, as the other law that might be a basis for a Fitzgerald prosecution. Last Saturday, the Washington Post reported that "some lawyers in the case think Fitzgerald may no longer be interested in proving whether Plame's name was illegally leaked to reporters" under the Identities Protection law, because that is simply too hard to prove; instead, the paper reported, "the lawyers, who based their opinions on the kinds of questions Fitzgerald is asking and not on firsthand knowledge, think the special prosecutor may be headed in a different direction. They said Fitzgerald could be trying to establish that a group of White House officials violated the Espionage Act, which prohibits the disclosure of classified material, or that they engaged in a conspiracy to discredit Wilson in part by identifying Plame."

But there are questions about whether the Espionage Act provides an appropriate basis on which to charge administration officials in the Plame matter. The crimes set forth in the act are clearly defined and, while some of them seem archaic today, do not appear to closely apply to the Plamegate affair. For example, the act prescribes punishment of up to 10 years in prison for:

[i]Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, fueling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard, canal, railroad, arsenal, camp, factory, mine, telegraph, telephone, wireless, or signal station, building, office, research laboratory or station or other place connected with the national defense owned or constructed, or in progress of construction by the United States or under the control of the United States, or of any of its officers, departments, or agencies, or within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, or any place in which any vessel, aircraft, arms, munitions, or other materials or instruments for use in time of war are being made, prepared, repaired, stored, or are the subject of research or development, under any contract or agreement with the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or with any person on behalf of the United States, or otherwise on behalf of the United States, or any prohibited place so designated by the President by proclamation in time of war or in case of national emergency in which anything for the use of the Army, Navy, or Air Force is being prepared or constructed or stored, information as to which prohibited place the President has determined would be prejudicial to the national defense...[/i]

Lawyers who have studied the act say that its specificity ? torpedo station, dockyard, telegraph ? suggests that lawmakers had very well-defined crimes in mind when they crafted the legislation. "They listed ship movements and maps and arms factories," says one lawyer, "so it wasn't like they didn't try to be all-inclusive. Certainly this [the Plame matter] is not on that list." Later in the act, the law outlines penalties for:

[i]Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or[/i]

Again, the specificity ? code book, signal book, blueprint ? suggests that the act's authors had very circumscribed crimes in mind. And if Fitzgerald were looking to bring charges based on the Espionage Act, or to allege that administration officials conspired to violate the act, he would likely have to argue that the accused had reason to believe that information in the case "could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." That could prove just as difficult as prosecuting under the Identities law.

"The Espionage Act would strike me as a huge leap," says the former intelligence official. "I don't think this amounts to espionage by any stretch of the imagination."


#17

Shhhh, Fightin, those are Canadian secrets, and if anyone found out I told you that, I'd probably be indicted!

--

Psst, sasquatch, take a look at my post questioning Marmadogg just a few moments before yours. Wow, amazing that I'd ask a lefty or references for claims that seem a bit far out. You did scroll back to notice that?

Good timing... sort of clears me of your claims of having a vandetta for Bush. What I want is the truth, and for those who aren't Bush cheerleaders, this is an interesting time. If you aren't a Bush cheerleader you'll see that a certain house of cards is being shown to be pretty damned flimsy. That certainly is not my fault.

So, kind of interesting that from my post you devolve directly into the personal attacks and an attempt to discredit me, the topic and the validity of even discussing the topic. It kind of makes it look like you are upset about something. Aren't you one of those people that tells me not to attack people personally, yet your first post in this thread does exactly that. Way to go and show yourself a hypocrite, once again.

The investigation is slated to wind down within approximately one week. If there are going to be indictments, they are going to happen very soon, supposedly. This seems like an opportune time to take a look at the issue -- almost a perfect time to talk about it. We'll actually have real world results we can compare our babble to!

That's pretty cool.


#18

Another good post from a blogger following this thing MUCH more closely than anyone I know:

How Covert Was Valerie Plame?

The always astute Mickey Kaus argues (How Dems Could Blow Plamegate: http://slate.msn.com/id/2128316/ ) that the Democrats should resist the temptation to turn the Plame investigation into a trial of the war in Iraq, and focus on the harm done to national security by the outing of a covert agent:

...while Dems might get a majority of Americans to agree that the Iraq War was a bad move, they'd get about 95% to agree that compromising covert American agents is a bad move. Why not make the latter the issue?

Since Special Counsel Fitzgerald is contemplating a similar question as he weighs indictments, let's address this central question - how covert was Valerie Plame?

The standard Democratic talking point is that Ms. Plame must have been covert or the CIA would not have filed a criminal referral to the Department of Justice ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A11208-2003Sep27&notFound=true ). Bob Somerby tackles this ( http://dailyhowler.com/dh102005.shtml ), wondering just when it was that the Left decided to take every utterance of the CIA at face value. On the question of whether the CIA is utterly reliable on the question of White House leaks, let's remember that at least part of the CIA was engaged in a bitter leaking match with the White House over who was to blame for the missing WMDs; this Knight-Ridder story from June 12, 2003 gives a flavor ( http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/special_packages/iraq/intelligence/11922512.htm ).

Let's note something else: in "The Stovepipe" ( http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?031027fa_fact ), Seymour Hersh went so far as to speculate that rogue ex-intelligence officers had created the Niger forgeries, and that the rumor had become "water-cooler gossip" at Langley. My point - if the New Yorker could publish that, why is it inconceivable that the CIA is engaged in a bit of a dirty trick with the criminal referral? Perhaps ironists abound at Langley - Cheney's office hyped the evidence against Saddam, so maybe now the CIA is hyping the evidence against them.

And that said, the actual criminal referral generated by the CIA does not specifically refer to the Plame leak, but rather to "unauthorized disclosure of unauthorized information", per the letter to John Conyers from the CIA. And since the report prepared based on Wilson's trip has not been declassified, it may be that the CIA is relying on leaks about Wilson's trip as the basis for its referral.

So from several different perspectives, that criminal referral may not be dispositive as to whether Valerie Plame was covert.

That said, let's acknowledge some other talking points in favor of Ms. Plame's covert status - the famous eight redacted pages in the appeals court decision certainly suggest that something is up; and Fitzgerald did not work on this investigation for two years only to be informed by some blogger that he is wasting his time.

Of course, we have Joe Wilson himself, speculating on the significance of the leak if his wife were in fact covert. Since this set the tone for much that followed, let's revisit that:

[i]Without acknowledging whether she is a deep-cover CIA employee, Wilson says, "Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames."[/i]

Really? Actions speak louder than words, so let's look at what Joe Wilson and the CIA did in July 2003 as the Wilson ( http://www.ccmep.org/2003_articles/Iraq/070903_wilson.htm ) and Novak ( http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/robertnovak/2003/07/14/160881.html ) columns were brewing.

Start with Joe Wilson, retired diplomat turned consultant. On July 6 he writes a column telling the world that he has done some consulting for the CIA. That might reasonably be expected to attract the attention of the spychasers of various foreign intelligence services.

As these spychasers study Joe Wilson, what do they learn? A few minutes on the internet would have turned up his on-line bio with his wife's maiden name; a check of FEC records for campaign donations ( http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/robertnovak/2003/10/04/168651.html ) would have revealed that his wife, as "Valerie Wilson", listed "Brewster-Jennings & Associates" as her employer. Elapsed time - ten minutes?

What would our spychasers learn about Brewster-Jennings? Within a week of the Bob Novak article mentioning Brewster-Jennings ( http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20031004.shtml ), the Boston Globe had done some research ( http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2003/10/10/apparent_cia_front_didnt_offer_much_cover/ ), sent a person to the Brewster-Jennings office in Boston, and reported that "Apparent CIA front didn't offer much cover".

There were no employees, the building managers knew nothing of the company, and typical state and local records had not been filed. Does that sound like a legitimate enterprise, or a possible front company? Might suspicions have been aroused?

Per Dun & Bradstreet, the company was set up in May of 1994, a well-known year for spychasers - Aldrich Ames ( http://www.crimelibrary.com/terrorists_spies/spies/ames/1.html ) was arrested in February of 1994 for betraying agents and assets to the Soviets, and many US agents learned that they may have been compromised.

So - Valerie Plame works for a phony company that seems to have come into being a few months after Aldrich Ames put a lot of US agents into early semi-retirement. This has taken maybe a week for our foreign spychaser to learn. Might he wonder if Ms. Plame is still with the CIA?

If he follows that trail of logic, our spychaser might then have someone follow Ms. Plame to work. Anyone attempting to do so will either learn that Ms. Plame has an extraordinary knack for eluding surveillance, or that she drives in to Langley each day.

The last shred of her cover will be gone, her photo will be obtained and circulated, her history deduced, her networks identified - all within a few weeks of the NY Times editorial, which was volunteered by Joe Wilson and allowed by the CIA. The dire consequences predicted by Joe will have been realized - yet he published his op-ed anyway. How seriously did he, and the CIA, take her security?

Or take a different tack, and review the events preceding the publication of Novak's column. Per his book and this WaPo account ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/26/AR2005072602069_pf.html ), Bob Novak actually talked in the street about Wilson and his wife with a person who, unbeknownst to Novak, was friendly with Joe Wilson. The friend then warned Wilson on July 8 that Novak might mention Valerie in a column.

In response to this news one might think, in light of the imminent danger to her foreign networks as cited above, that Wilson would act quickly, alerting his wife and the CIA.

Wrong again - Wilson played telephone tag with Novak for two days, talked to him on the 10th, assumed the CIA press office would handle it, then finally told his wife, and moved on.

Per Wilson's "The Politics of Truth", his wife did attempt to notify the CIA press office. But did her heads-up get through in time? Let's cut to Bill Harlow, the now-retired CIA press spokesman:

[i]Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.[/i]

What? He talked with Novak about Ms. Plame's role at the CIA, then checked her status and called Novak back? Per Wilson, lives are hanging by a thread all over the world, and this guy is chatting merrily with a reporter about a deep-cover NOC, and arguing about whether the reporter should believe his White House sources?

And Harlow did not want to tell Novak she was undercover because that might jeopardize her status? What did he think would happen if Novak published?

This CIA story is absurd - the press works with authorities on murder investigations, troop movements, and all sorts of sensitive things, and they can handle classified information responsibly. Back in 2003, the WaPo said this ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A11208-2003Sep27&notFound=true ):

[i]The CIA occasionally asks news organizations to withhold the names of undercover agents, and news organizations usually comply. An intelligence official told The Post yesterday that no further harm would come from repeating Plame's name.[/i]

And what did Novak's editor say about Novak? http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A14399-2003Sep28&notFound=true

[i]Steve Huntley, editorial page editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, Novak's home paper, said: "I trust his judgment and accuracy unquestionably, and his ethics as well. . . . This is the sort of thing you're always faced with when a source tells you something a source should not be telling you. Do you become a second gatekeeper? Our business is to report news, not to slam the door on it."[/i]

Note what the editor did not say - no one from the CIA press office called to quash this story. No call from Harlow to Huntley, no call from Tenet to Huntley, no call from Tenet to Novak, nothing. Lives at stake all over the world, America's national security imperiled, and no one can find a telephone?

There's more. As a big bureaucracy, the CIA undoubtedly loves meetings and memos. And after this spectacular belly-flop - a major columnist misunderstands or ignores a press officer warning and outs an agent - the CIA surely generated a mountain of memos and held a multitude of meetings to determine What Went Wrong and How We Can Improve.

And Fitzgerald has all those memos, because he knows an aggressive defense will raise this point at trial, right? Sure, just as the press has reported on the many changes at the CIA press office following the Plame debacle. Or not. I am guessing here, but I bet that Fitzgerald has nothing from the CIA on this, and is troubled by it.

So, let's try for a positive case - if we accept for a moment that the neither the CIA nor Wilson were acting in a manner consistent with Valerie's cover being a deep secret, can we establish a reason for that? Sure - per Nick Kristof ( http://www.helenair.com/articles/2003/10/14/opinions/a04101403_02.txt ), Ms. Plame was, in fact, believed to have been compromised by Aldrich Ames in 1994; her operations were, as best as possible, wound down, and by 2003 she was in transition to a liaison function.

And per Bill Gertz of the Wash Times ( http://washingtontimes.com/national/20040722-115439-4033r.htm ), the CIA accidentally outed Ms. Plame themselves:

[i]In a second compromise, officials said a more recent inadvertent disclosure resulted in references to Mrs. Plame in confidential documents sent by the CIA to the U.S. Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Havana.

The documents were supposed to be sealed from the Cuban government, but intelligence officials said the Cubans read the classified material and learned the secrets contained in them, the officials said.[/i]

Now, these could be Bush friendly leaks from some other faction in the intel community. However, depending on the statute he cites, Fitzgerald may need to demonstrate some harm to national security. As Dan McLaughlin noted ( http://baseballcrank.com/archives2/2005/07/law.php ), that is a potential obstacle in cases where real damage has been done - the CIA may decide that introducing evidence in a public trial will compromise too many intelligence assets.

But in a case where there is no damage? That is also difficult to prosecute, under the Espionage Act anyway.

And rather than admit that they have been hyping the charges the CIA may make a face-saving exit, announcing that Valerie is simply too confidential to discuss, and asking the DoJ to drop the charges. As Special Counsel, Fitzgerald must be sensitive to this "I'm taking my agent and going home" denouement.

Meaning what? Fitzgerald may have good reason to stay away from any indictments based on harm to national security, since the CIA may be a bit of an unreliable witness on this point.

And, contra Mickey, the Dems might be well advised to steer away from a focus on the harm to national security done by this leak.


#19

Boston, your analysis is very flawed. While the acts contain specificity, they also contain catch alls such as "any information".

They also clearly indicate that a person should simply know that such a release of information could be dangerous to US interests.

Considering the right wing cheerleaders like to point out "THIS IS A TIME OF WAR", you'd think that outing intelligence assets which may damage US efforts, during a time of war, would have republicans clamoring TREASON if such an event did occur.

If such an event were to be proven to have occurred, a lot of cheerleaders would either have to change their tune or be actively supportive of what would arguably be treason, just because they are in support of the administration doing it. Wow.

It makes no difference how many learned partisans attempt to convince themselves that certain laws can't be applied in this case, because all of that is a mere distraction. Perhaps it is merely an attempt to pre-arm the public followers with talking points in the event that indictments do occur?

Who knows? However, leaked events would indeed point to inappropriate behavior within the administration. I know I know, I hear cries of PROVE IT already. First, we'll see in a week or so if there is enough evidence to make it appropriate for the parties in question to go out and try to PROVE IT.

Things like the FEMA fuckup, cherry picking of information, starting a war without any idea how to handle the aftermath, using fear to gather public support and having key republican officials indicted is huge. Stick your cheerleading heads in the sand all you like, maybe you'll find oil?


#20

Funny how you discount all the information you want and throw around bogus accusations so that you don't have to back anything up that you print. How is it a personal attack to wonder why you hate the administration and look for nothing but the evil?
How is it a personal attack to claim it's overblown nonsense until something is proven or at least challenged in a court of law not your left siding media attacks? How is it a personal attack to say until something comes from it, I'll ignore it?
Yet your derogatory post is suppose to inspire the honest discussion you claim to crave. Please, get off your box and post something relevant and factual--ONCE.
Your last paragraph is almost paraphrasing yourself with regartds to that now infamous memo, where you wanted to wait before discussing. Now you want to discuss before you know anything more.
How can we intelligently discuss rhetoric. Oh that's right, it's rhetoric that backs your position so fire away vroomy